The Boss Show

Workplace wisdom with heart and humor

May 14, 2017

Understanding Your ‘Different’ Coworker, Part 2

Building on last week’s Part 1 on the importance of understanding your coworkers’ styles:  personality-type expert Curt Archambault helps Jim and Steve discover:  (1) What happens when a team doesn’t have a balance of personality styles? (2) Can you use personality style tests as a hiring filter?

View Transcript

Voiceover: It’s a Northwest lifestyle weekend on KOMO News. Now, a show for anyone who is or has a boss, this is The Boss Show with Jim Hessler and Steve Motenko.
Steve Motenko: Today on The Boss Show, part two of using personality-style assessments. Yes, they really have a lot of value to understand your coworkers and make everything in the workplace better. So, part two, we were only going to do … This was only going to be one episode. There’s just too much richness here. So, we invite you to join us today for a deeper exploration. Hi. I’m Steve Motenko. I’m The Psychology Guy, and I am a personal development coach and leadership coach in the Seattle area.
Jim Hessler: I’m Jim Hessler. I’m The Business Guy. I’m the Founder of Path Forward Leadership Development. We help build leaders. We help leaders grow into their potential as leaders of people and organizations. Steve and I also wrote a book together called Land on Your Feet, Not on Your Face.
Steve Motenko: We have in studio with us again this week, although if we’re telling the truth …
Jim Hessler: I’m sorry. Can I interject? When we talk about part two, we want to make sure our KOMO listeners know that part one is available as a podcast as are all of our shows at
Steve Motenko: Yes, indeed, thanks. So, Curt Archambault is with us again. Curt is Vice President of the consultancy, People and Performance Strategies. Curt is a trainer on a particular personality-style assessment called the DiSC, which is … What we’re not here to do is to compare and contrast different personality-style assessments. That would be a 20-part series rather than a two-part series and it would get pretty arcane pretty quick. What we are here to do is to talk about the real benefits of understanding your personality style and others whom you work with as well as understanding the pitfalls of using these assessments. So, in part one, we talked a little bit about how important it is for team … First of all, how important team communication is.
I’m sure if you’re listening to the show, you’re not unfamiliar with that concept, that everything in the workplace, every way that you define success in the workplace, depends on how well you communicate with your coworkers. A big part of communicating well with your coworkers is understanding that the way they show up, the way they approach work, the way they approach relationships is often different from yours. That doesn’t mean that it’s worse. So, what a personality-style assessment does is it helps you to understand how your coworker relates to the world, relates to the work, relates to the workplace in different ways, not worse ways, but in different ways than you do. He or she has different set of strengths and a different set of weaknesses based on their personality style. Curt, welcome again to the show.
Curt Archambault: Thanks for having me back.
Steve Motenko: Say a little bit about … Just give us a real quick rundown of the four personality styles in the DiSC again for those who didn’t catch part one.
Curt Archambault: So, the four styles are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientious. Some keywords that describe Dominance would be direct, results-oriented, firm, strong, willed, maybe a little bit forceful whereas Influence tends to be …
Steve Motenko: Before you go to influence, I just want you to think about … Put a face on these descriptions that Curt is giving you. I bet you already have for his description of the D, the dominant style … Going on to the I?
Curt Archambault: Yeah, the I is influence. So, these tend to be a little bit more outgoing, enthusiastic, are optimists in the office, high-spirited, very lively. Back to Steve’s point, who do you work with that exhibits those types of behaviors? We move to our sSteadiness group and they tend to be a little bit more even keeled, a little even tempered, very accommodating, will be patient, humble, tactful. These are the rocks in your organization. Then the Conscientious is the C. This is my favorite because I am one of them.
Steve Motenko: My favorite too because I am one of them.
Curt Archambault: I am a C style. Very analytical, tend to be reserved. Precise, private, systematic, just really kind of like to do work individually. Not necessarily … A lot of the team activities maybe scare them a little bit. They like to be by themselves.
Steve Motenko: What I said in part one and I’ll reiterate here is that, often the work for you when you know your personality style, your natural personality style is to expand your repertoire. The work for a team is for everybody to be expanding their repertoire so that they’re not only good at what they’re naturally good at, but they learn to be good at other styles as well. They learn to develop strengths other than the ones they’re naturally born to.
Jim Hessler: Situational is the [crosstalk 00:04:51].
Steve Motenko: Right, exactly.
Jim Hessler: Just a little example of why this sort of thing is important. And again, the essence of not thinking of people as right or wrong or good or bad, but just different. We were talking during the break about Steve being a conscientious C and me, kind of, I think going kind of halfway between the D and the I. One of the things that Steve does …
Steve Motenko: Which again is Dominant and Influencer.
Jim Hessler: Influencer, yeah, yeah. I think I was probably more of a D when I was younger and I’ve probably morphed into more of an I as I’ve gotten older. Steve, you use your computer a lot, and you take a lot of notes onto your computer, and because of my … Maybe because I want to dominate you, I don’t know. You know how important it is for me to be in physical presence with people. We talk about that a lot, about just I love being in the room with people. Maybe that’s the I part showing up. And Steve, often when I talk to you, you’re taking notes on the computer. I really had to get used to that idea and it had to get over pretty quickly the fact that it kind of pissed me off.
It was like, “Hmm, I don’t really feel like I’m getting his full presence and his full attention. He’s doing computer stuff.” Then I have a little conversation with myself and then I think you and I talked about it as well. And I realize this is just really, really important for you to process dialogue this way. It’s important for you to capture as much information as you can from the conversation. I joked at the break that sometimes you’re quoting me when you’re writing these things down. So, I went from misunderstanding Steve’s perspective and intention in that to understanding it as something that didn’t hurt me in any way. I just needed to work with it. So, Curt, I’m sure you see this happen [crosstalk 00:06:39].
Steve Motenko: I think I could tell similar stories about you, but …
Jim Hessler: No, absolutely. There’s some huge things you’ve had to adjust to in my style as well.
Steve Motenko: Right. So, this notion of adjusting to your coworker’s style, Curt Archambault who’s Vice President of People and Performance Strategies, who trains on this DiSC personality-style assessment. Curt, just riff for us on this idea of, “Yeah, it’s my coworkers pissing me off because they do things very differently than me.” How does the DiSC or personality-style assessments in general help with this?
Curt Archambault: I think what it does is it gives people a common language now with which to focus in on, where it’s before, I had this awareness. It was you. Now, I have information that says, “Well, maybe it could be me and how … “
Jim Hessler: Or us.
Curt Archambault: Or us working together, right. That’s where I see the payoff in the workplace is occurring because you guys have established a relationship that you’re willing to put up maybe with some of your idiosyncratic behaviors, but in the workplace a lot of times …
Steve Motenko: And it took a while.
Curt Archambault: It takes a while. A lot of times, that doesn’t occur in the workplace. People start to divide. It impacts productivity. People leave the organization, which has a huge financial impact. So, what we want to do is help them say, “Hey, it’s okay.” We have a tool that goes along with DiSC called the Comparison Report, which is a great way for two people to come together and say, “These are our differences, but here’s some strategies which we can work with to strengthen our relationship.”
Jim Hessler: I’m laughing here because I’m thinking one of the legitimate outcomes of this is to say, “Oh now I understand why you pissed me off so much.”
Curt Archambault: That’s exactly it. I can tell you I’ve heard that said out loud more than once in a session that I’ve taught.
Steve Motenko: And in understanding why you pissed me off so much, you start to lose the vise grip that you have on your own personality style.
Jim Hessler: It takes a lot of the drama away from it. It takes a lot of the power of those feelings away once that it’s replaced with understanding.
Curt Archambault: I’ve seen folks where they were at odds with each other. Then after this scenario and had some time to process and work through it, now have been great coworkers and have created a stronger alliance as a result of understanding. They still get to still be who they are, but they now appreciate why they do what they do.
Steve Motenko: I mean, there’s almost nothing more important. There’s almost nothing more important in terms of any way that you define success than understanding how you show up in a specific way and understanding how your coworkers shows up in a different way and understanding that neither is right nor wrong, but each brings strength to the table. We want to be very clear as we said in part one of this two-part episode. You’ll find part one on our website, We said there that no personality style is better than any others. Some are better in certain situations and there are downsides to over-relying on personality-style assessments.
Go listen to our part one on our website again. One thing we haven’t gotten to that’s really important, Curt, is you say that it’s important on a team to have all styles represented. Say more about that.
Curt Archambault: Yeah, and I would love to say that every team we work with has that situation, but in a lot of cases they don’t. Some of that is due to organizations using selection tools. They do a great job hiring the type of people they want, but it kind of creates this maybe void within their team. If they don’t have that style, what we try to do is help them and we give them tools to say, “If you don’t have the style, here’s now your understanding of that style.” And as a team, you got to work through, how’re we going to have that style represented on our team? Who’s going to play that role? Who’s going to ask those questions? Who’s going to force us to think that way because nobody here naturally thinks that way? Now some of us might get there easier, but we have to be very deliberate about that behavior.
Jim Hessler: Or for example, you could have a team that’s heavily D and you could train yourself to ask questions like …
Curt Archambault: Exactly.
Jim Hessler: “Do we have enough data here to make this decision?” You could assign somebody to ask that question if you didn’t have a C in the room. Do we have enough data?
Curt Archambault: And a lot of people call that team norm of who’s going to play the role of the devil’s advocate. So, you may have to look at, it’s like, “Okay, for this particular conversation, we need somebody who’s going to play the role of the C player.”
Jim Hessler: So, you can actually almost assign these roles to some degree. If people understand the four quadrants, they can go into that role in a way that’s useful to the team, even though it’s kind of play-acting. It’s very valuable.
Steve Motenko: Very much so. One way to look at the importance of balance on a team of all the personality styles is to imagine what it’s like when a team has only one personality style. So, finish my sentence, Curt. When everybody on a team is a D then …
Curt Archambault: We do a lot of stuff and it doesn’t always work. Wait, is that what you were asking?
Jim Hessler: A lot of ideas, unfinished ideas.
Curt Archambault: A lot of moving forward and a lot of, “You know what? We’ll just fix it when it comes up.” It’s really, they’re happy to keep the ball moving down the field, even if it’s three steps down and four steps back.
Steve Motenko: And also, don’t you end up with a lot of conflict, because everybody wants to be in control.
Curt Archambault: Well, yes, and people say, “Well, if D should all get along, they do if they all agree on the topic. If they don’t agree on the topic, it’s not pretty and we all have to leave.” Another example, when everybody on a team is in S, then there’s a lot of hugging, lot of hugging in that room. They’re the people that are the steady, constant flow, keeping everybody together, keeps the emotions in check, and they’re very valuable to have on the team.
Steve Motenko: It reminds me of the distinction that you often emphasize, Jim, between you know what I’m going to say?
Curt Archambault: Morale and motivation.
Steve Motenko: Exactly.
Curt Archambault: This is the morale group.
Steve Motenko: Right, exactly.
Curt Archambault: This is the group that really wants to feel good about what’s going on.
Steve Motenko: That’s correct, but not much moving forward. And in 10 seconds, when everybody on a team is a C, then what?
Curt Archambault: They’re usually in their cubicle by themselves looking at their screen with their headphones on.
Steve Motenko: Are you talking to me here?
Curt Archambault: I think am, but I am one as well.
Steve Motenko: And you’re talking to yourself as well.
Curt Archambault: That’s right.
Jim Hessler: No, no, no. It sounds like Microsoft.
Steve Motenko: It could be. Maybe they hire Cs. Speaking about hiring, I want to talk about hiring. Is it okay to use personality-style assessments for hiring?
Curt Archambault: Actually, we consult with clients and tell them that that is something you shouldn’t do.
Jim Hessler: I’m glad to hear you say that.
Curt Archambault: There are some validated hiring assessments, but there is so much that goes into that and in our particular assessment that DiSC is not validated for selection. So, we look at it as positioning those folks after they’ve been hired to use that tool and add information to help them accelerate the learning curve of this new hire or accelerate the relationship between a new manager and a new employee or even an existing team. So, we don’t [crosstalk 00:13:19].
Jim Hessler: I think this is an important point. Legally, you have to be careful about this.
Steve Motenko: Well, that makes sense.
Jim Hessler: If it’s a validated assessment, actually, the U.S. Department of Labor approves of using a validated assessment as a hiring tool. If it’s not a validated … A validated assessment is subject to a scientific proof that says, “It does predict the behavior that the test says it’s predicting.” In other words, they go back and say, “You tested is this … Is that borne out in the person’s actual behavior?” A validated assessment has that DiSCipline. DiSC doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable, but it’s not defensible from a legal perspective to use that in the hiring sense, so …
Steve Motenko: Okay, but let’s say …
Jim Hessler: … be careful. And don’t ever say that you’re using a Myers-Briggs or a DiSC, even if you might be inclined to put that information into your pipe and smoke it, but please God, don’t say so. You could get sued for it literally.
Steve Motenko: Okay, but if we set the legal piece aside and maybe it’s …
Jim Hessler: Well, that’s important for people to know.
Steve Motenko: Absolutely, but we set it aside, let’s say I’m hiring an accountant and I’m going to want somebody who’s extremely detail-oriented, who’s comfortable working all by themselves for long periods of time. Why would I not want to know what their natural personality style is?
Jim Hessler: Well, let me jump in.
Steve Motenko: Sure.
Jim Hessler: Because to some degree, these tests can be beat. So, if a person knows that you’re testing for these abilities on an unvalidated assessment, they can beat the test.
Steve Motenko: Curt, how would you answer [crosstalk 00:14:54]?
Curt Archambault: Yeah, I would say that’s exactly it. I would say use your other selection processes to identify the right individual. I mean, you’re talking about their competence and their character. You’ll see some of their character coming during the interviewing process with whatever tool you use to interview. You’ll be able to assess their competency. If you need somebody who’s detail-oriented, there may be actions you can ask them to do to surface that. And then go it from a post-hire and say, “Okay, now, who are we really dealing with here and how can we utilize that?” Because I’ve worked with clients where IT departments tend to be skewed, a maybe a little heavier on the C style and their leader was a high I.
What was amazing is once all the employees realize, “Oh, that’s why he’s different than us,” and it turned to be a positive because he was really driving that department in a much different way than they’d ever experience, which was very positive for them.
Steve Motenko: And just to remind people, the C is the conscientious …
Curt Archambault: Conscientiousness.
Steve Motenko: … style and the I is the influencer and they’re literally diametrically opposed …
Curt Archambault: Correct.
Steve Motenko: … on the scale.
Jim Hessler: But think about this. How great is it? You’re a new employee. You’ve been hired into a team and your boss comes to you and says, “I’ve taken the DiSC. Here’s what my profile looks like. Here’s what you need to know about how to work with me most effectively. Now we’re gonna do the same test for you so I can learn about … ” What a great, great message to give to a new employee. I mean, this is powerful stuff.
Curt Archambault: It is very powerful.
Steve Motenko: Right, because you’re telling …
Jim Hessler: It positions them for success in that relationship …
Steve Motenko: Exactly.
Jim Hessler: … which was one of the most important relationships they’ll ever have.
Steve Motenko: Exactly.
Curt Archambault: Right, and you’re giving people the cultural understanding. In our culture, we’re about understanding each other more than we are about making sure that if you’re my direct report, you do things my way.
Steve Motenko: So, the question about hiring also applies to the idea that I think the kind of subconscious tendency for all of us to hire people who are like us. And the DiSC, again, or any personality-style assessments shines some light on that. We talked earlier about how important it is to have a balance of personality styles on the team. How do we get over this natural tendency to want to hire everyone on our team to be carbon copies of selves?
Curt Archambault: Well, that’s one of the side benefits of taking a team through this because that is a natural tendency. I’ve had one client that I can think of that like to hire people just like them because they were action-oriented. So, no surprise, he was a high D style and he wanted all Ds around him, but now we’ve illuminated what the challenges of that are. Now, he is much more focused, making sure he has a more balanced team. And again, we’re dealing with competency and character, so sometimes a person maybe has all the competent needs that we have and we’re just going to work with their style, even though they may be contrary to what we want. It helps people recognize that we need to have a blend of styles.
Jim Hessler: But that’s very natural if you think about it to want to be around people who are like you. I mean, it’s easier to form social bonds with somebody who just kind of gets the way you operate. And frankly, it takes a little more work to connect with somebody who has basically a different personality, but it’s really worth the effort if you’re willing to do the work.
Curt Archambault: That’s what we tell clients too is that socially the styles get along very well, right?
Jim Hessler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Curt Archambault: So, all Ds kind of hang out with each other because they have some commonality, but when it comes in the workplace that’s where the hard, heavy lifting has to come in play because sometimes we need to look at other people’s perspectives and it’s not comfortable, but it’s what’s best for the business.
Steve Motenko: What tools do you offer people to do that? What tools do you offer people to do the heavy lifting of trying to understand someone’s personality that is different from mine, trying to get over that natural tendency to hang out with people who are just like me?
Curt Archambault: The primary deliverable we do during a sessions is a customized profile. Out of that profile are the tools. So, we don’t just leave them with the information. We say, “Okay, now, how are you going to apply this? What are you gonna do? Here’s some strategies that we would recommend,” but it’s gonna take deliberants on their part or diligence to put those into action.” But then we try to get the whole team and get some motivation by the whole team. So, we’ll give them team views so they can see prior to moving into a conversation with somebody, “Oh, I know I’m about ready to talk with Jim and I know Jim’s an I, D, so how do I need to position this? What would I naturally wanna say to him versus what he’s gonna hear better?”
Jim Hessler: Because he’s want to hear about action.
Curt Archambault: Yes, yes.
Jim Hessler: He wants to hear from me that something’s going to happen, so I better include that in the conversation.
Curt Archambault: Exactly. There’s series of action plans. I mentioned one earlier, the Comparison Report, which is powerful. I’m part of our local Chamber of Commerce and our executive director … We brought on a new person. They sat down right at the beginning and they’re opposite styles and they have such a strong working relationship right now it’s amazing. I hold them up as my example of how it can be done.
Steve Motenko: How’d they get there?
Curt Archambault: They just sat down and talked about their differences and there was strategies on how they can work better. From one, we’re trying to get to know each other. Here’s what we should do. When it gets stressful, how should we react to each other?
Steve Motenko: Yeah, when it gets stressful, here’s how I tend to react under stress.
Curt Archambault: Exactly.
Steve Motenko: Here’s how you tend to react under stress and that’s probably different. And if we understand that, we go a long way toward building the bridge.
Curt Archambault: Exactly, and they see those differences now as complementary and not a point of conflict for them. I’ve watched them both grow on both sides.
Jim Hessler: Well, I would tell you, too, and we’re getting to close to the end here.
Curt Archambault: Sure.
Jim Hessler: I want to make sure I make a point, which is this really shows up well in your person life as well. This can help your marriage. This can help your relationship with your kids. Getting this sort of industrial testing in the workplace, you definitely take it home with you.
Curt Archambault: That’s for sure.
Steve Motenko: I’d take a step back kind of at a meta level and say, as I said earlier or maybe in the last episode, there’s nothing more important in my mind than understanding the perspective of the other. If we truly do that, then we solve most if not all of the problems in the world, and not enough of us are doing that.
Curt Archambault: I agree.
Jim Hessler: Curt, how can people get hold of you?
Curt Archambault: Well, thanks again for the opportunity. I can be easily reached at my email address, which is Curt, C-U-R-T, And you can go to our website at
Steve Motenko: And Curt does and his organization does trainings in the DiSC. You’ve been listening to a show about personality-style assessments. We’ve been using the DiSC as an example, I think a really good example of how personality-style assessments can change the world, really, by helping people understand each other better.
Jim Hessler: The Boss Show is produced by Boss Media Productions and our sound engineer is Kevin Dodrill.
Steve Motenko: If you missed any of the show, you can get it in its entirely online at and it’s also where you can go to subscribe to the podcast. Oh, we’re also in iTunes and Stitcher and SoundCloud and maybe to bring us into your workplace at
Jim Hessler: Thank you so much listening.
Steve Motenko: And don’t forget, rule number six.
Jim Hessler: Rule number six.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *